Architects Imagine Future Obama Presidential Library

BH301.A7 via Flickr

Speculative plans for President Obama’s dedicated library have been submitted to the Guardian following his announcement regarding a list of final locations for the library’s site.

The final list of candidates for the library was announced by the Barack Obama Foundation, which will oversee future plans for the site including the submission of official proposals by finalists in the coming months. The list of candidates is comprised of four universities: The University of Chicago, Columbia University, The University of Hawaii, and The University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). Each represents a different phase of Obama’s life before being elected to office.

Alphonso Medina, founder of New York/Tijuana-based T38 Studio, imagines the library as integrated into Columbia University, where President Obama graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1983. The library, according to Medina, will be “deeply embedded within the city’s urban fabric,” and, instead of constructing an entirely new building for the project, Medina says his design will be, “a series of interventions within existing buildings throughout the whole neighborhood” that will “create open space, providing an opportunity for social gathering.”

Another design, for the University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law from 1992-1996, will be “a dramatic new landmark for Chicago and a world destination” according to its planner, architect Richard Dattner. Dattner’s plan would produce a large circular-shaped building near the Hyde Park campus that was one of the sights of the 1893 World’s Fair and later become know as White City. Dattner says that his library will break from the traditional, boring mold of past presidential libraries by “rejecting dated monumentality, inflexibility and formalism” with a structure that is “transparent and open, accessible, sustainable and engaged with the surrounding community, city and region.”


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